“A Large Object with a Small Museum”: A Narrative Analysis of Tlotlo's Experience of an Astronomy Science Center



Abstract  This paper presents a narrative analysis of an elementary school student's view of his visit to an astronomy science center in South Africa. We illustrate the power of narrative in illuminating the importance of the student's perspective in understanding the conditions for learning in a museum setting. Using principles of narrative presentation, the paper describes Tlotlo's thinking throughout his participation in a school visit to the visitors' center at a radio telescope. The paper discusses six features of the visit: student misconceptions; inadequate preparation and followup; memories and imaginings; enjoyment; discussing the visit afterwards; and socioeconomic constraints on visits. These features are examined within the context of a developing country: both confirming previous research on school visits and providing new insights into how such visits can be interpreted. The significance of narrative analysis for science center educators is discussed and suggested as appropriate for current research in museums.